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Full text of "My Country And My People"

2l8          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

concentrate on the storing of information rather than on the
development of a critical mind. For a critical mind cannot be
easily graded or given a marking of 75 or 93, while a question
on the dates of the Punic Wars can. Moreover, any college
examination must be of such a nature that students can prepare
for it at a week's notice, or all of them will flunk, and any
knowledge that can be crammed at a week's notice can be
forgotten in as short a period. There have not yet been devised
any series of examinations which are cram-proof and student-
proof, and the victims are only the professors who are led to
believe that their students have really understood their
subjects.

The old college system, whether in the village school or in
the shuyiian (college of higher standard), had a distinct advan-
tage over the modern one, for the simple fact that, except for
the oflBcial examinations which were entirely optional, it did
not rdy on the counting of "units" and "marks."   It was a
tutorial system, where the teacher knew exactly what his pupils
had or had not read, and where there was a very close and
intimate relationship between teacher and student.   No one
was promoted, and no one ever "graduated," and no one
studied for a diploma, because there was none. Above all, no
one was obliged to mark time and wait for the last lame sheep
to jump over the fence.  No one was required to read three
pages of economics on a Thursday morning and stop at the
second paragraph; he could read to the end of the chapter if he
wanted, and he had to if he was truly interested. And last of
all, no one believed, or tried to make others believe, that by
piling up "units" of psychology, religion and salesmanship and
English constitutional history on a person, you can create an
educated man out of him.  No one believed, or tried to make
others believe, that you can "test" a man's appreciation of
Shakespeare by either a "paraphrase" of any passage or by
asking a question on the date of authorship of Othello, or by
making him answer questions on Elizabethan idioms.   The
only thing a college education really does for a man is to instil
in him such a permanent distaste for Elizabethan idioms and the
De Valorem commentaries that for the remainder of his life
he will shun Shakespeare as he shuns poison.